I know you all have a copy of the 2015-2016 State of Wisconsin Blue Book in your library along with some older editions, too. Have you ever wondered where it comes from? If you answered the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB), you get a gold star! The Blue Book is one of the many publications available from the LRB. In addition, the LRB publishes The Laws of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, Wisconsin Administrative Code, and Administrative Register.
The Legislative Reference Bureau, founded in 1901, is the “official reference source for information about the Wisconsin Legislature and its proceedings.” While the LRB mainly serves the legislature, they are open to and serve the public. Librarians and analysts are available to help legislators and the public find legislative documents, research legislative history and more.
The LRB’s library, Theobald Legislative Library, has over 85,000 items in four main collections: Wisconsin documents, a circulating collection, news clippings, and a reference collection. Wisconsin residents can get a library card and borrow materials from their circulating collection. The news clippings are also digitized and available in the LRB Digital Collections from the public computer stations in the LRB or on your own computer using the LRB’s wi-fi. LRB librarians recommend bringing in a thumb drive to save clippings instead of printing them. If you’re in Madison, stop in and visit, get a library card, and browse their collections - both print and online.
Check out the LRB Digital Collections online. In addition to the news clippings and the Blue Book archive (2005-present*), you’ll find publications from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Audit Bureau, and more. With the exception of the news clippings, you can access these collections from anywhere. The same goes for other LRB publications like the Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations. They’re all collected here along with lots of other legislative information. I like that I can search everything by using the search box on the main page or select the documents or publications I’m interested in and go exploring from there. Somehow, this one page is less daunting than seeing the multi-volume print set of the Statutes on the reference shelves!
*Older editions of the Blue Book can be found in the UW Digital Collections.